What to do When Your Email Marketing Strategy isn’t Working

Email marketing is tough.

Not everybody sees a huge return on their first go, and that’s alright. It’s important that you keep at it and apply some best practices.

Don’t know what those best practices are?

No worries — that’s why I’m here.

Here is a step-by-step guide to improving your email marketing strategy. I’ll cover how to clean your list, collecting data on your subscribers, and the types of emails you should be sending.

It’s not rocket science— it’s so much easier than that.

Let’s start at the beginning, cleaning your list.

Step 1: Clean your list

email marketing strategy step 1

If your email strategy isn’t working, odds are you’re sending to an unengaged list.

What does “unengaged” mean? It means that people aren’t opening your emails. This usually happens when you’re sending content that is irrelevant to them. And if they continue ignoring your emails, you run the risk of being pushed to their spam filter.

There are 5 reasons to clean your email list:

  1. It decreases annoyance
  2. It increases deliverability
  3. It helps with customer retention
  4. It helps with personalization and analytics
  5. It saves money

To learn more about cleaning your list, our co-founder, Ed Hallen wrote a guide to email newsletter list cleaning. Enjoy.

And if you’re a Klaviyo customer, check out this great doc.

Once you’ve cleaned your list, now it’s time for step 2 — making sure you’re collecting the right information on your engaged subscribers.

Step 2: Start collecting the right data

email marketing strategy step 2

But yours doesn’t have to be.

If you want to graduate from simply sending the same email to everyone on your list (spam), then you’re going to need to know who your subscribers are and what they’ve done in the past.

This comes in the form of data.

The more data you have, the more targeted you can get with your email strategy, and the more money you can make from email.

Here’s the type of data you should be collecting.

Purchase history: This is information captured during purchases. You’ll be able to capture:

  • First purchase date
  • Last purchase date
  • Number of purchases
  • Total amount spent
  • Average order value
  • Purchase history (past purchases)

Behavioral data: Knowing the behavior of your customers will give you an idea of who they are. Behavior data includes:

  • Abandoned cart
  • Opens/Clicks
  • Pages viewed (browse abandonment)

Customer preferences: Information given to you by the customer. Do this by adding fields to your signup form or popup. To do this in Klaviyo, check out our adding additional fields to sign up form doc. Examples of customer preference include:

  • Birthday
  • Gender
  • Product interests

Now that you know the data you should be collecting, how should you go about actually getting it?



Integrating your other platforms with your email marketing platform will allow your to collect all this information I talked about above.

To learn more about our integrations, check out our integrations page.

Let’s move on to the good stuff — what you can do with this data.

Step 3: Setup your segments

email marketing strategy step 3

Now that you’ve collected all this great information on your customers, let’s start segmenting your email list.

Segmentation is being deliberate about who you send your emails to. It’s breaking up your list based on your customer’s behavior and attributes.

We’ve found that by segmenting your list, you’re able to generate more revenue. According to our benchmark report, companies who sent smaller, more segmented campaigns saw a higher revenue per recipient.

Here are 3 segments that every company should set up from the start and the data needed to set them up.

  1. Active subscribers: An active subscriber is someone who opens your emails on a regular basis.
  2. VIP customers: These are your best customers. You can segment this in a number of ways.
    • Frequent customers: Your best customer could be someone who has purchased an X amount of times in the past Y days.
    • Big spenders: Customers who spend X amount of money per individual purchase
  3. Never bought: It might be a good idea to reach out to these people with a discount to urge them to purchase for the first time. Segmenting your lists is an easy way to see better results. Check out ourguide to email marketing segmentation to learn about all the segments you can send.

And if you’re a Klaviyo customer and don’t know how segments work, don’t fret, here’s a link to our “Create a Segment” doc.

Now that you’ve got your segments all sorted out, let’s move on to step 4 — setting up your flows.

Step 4: Setup your flows

email marketing strategy step 4

Flows are your money makers.

If you don’t know what a flow is, you’re not alone. Flows are triggered emails based on an action your subscriber takes.

Once you’ve got these flows set up and running, the emails will send out automatically when your subscribers take the set action.

4 flows that we recommend every company set up are:

Welcome series: Triggered when someone signs up for your newsletter.

Your welcomes series will act as a first impression, and I’m sure you know how important first impressions are. It’s great to add an incentive to get your new subscribers to purchase right away. Here are 5 ways to incentivize new subscribers to purchase in your welcome series.

Abandoned cart: Triggered when a shopper has added an item to their cart and failed to complete the checkout process.

People don’t always abandon their cart because of lost interest, there could be any number of reasons for not checking out (forgot credit card, had to run an errand, favorite tv show was on). If setup properly, this flow will help you being those cart abandoners back to finish what they started. Check out these 17 helpful tips to ensure you’re sending the most effective abandoned cart emails.

Win-back: Triggered when a customer has gone an X amount of time without making a purchase.

Customer retention is just, if not more, important than customer acquisition. Having a good win-back flow setup will help you turn first time buyers into repeat buyers, and repeat buyers into VIP customers. Learn how to win back inactive customers to improve customer retention.

If you have these 3 flows setup, then you’re well on your way to having a kickass email strategy in place.

And now that you’ve got all your segments and flows up and running, step 5 will help you track their performance.

Step 5: Track your performance

email marketing strategy step 5

Now that you have everything set up, let’s talk about tracking its performance.

Tracking your performance lets you analyze how your email marketing strategy is performing.

Tracking email opens and clicks is all well and good, but that will only tell you if your subscribers are engaging with your emails.

What you really want to know is how much money your email strategy is making you. I mean, isn’t that why we’re sending email in the first place, to get more sales?

Do this by calculating your revenue per recipient. This will tell you exactly how much each recipient is making your company. I wrote an article a few months ago on why you should care about RPR that might help you better understand this metric.

Final words

Are you not seeing much of a return from your email? Don’t worry — It happens. The above steps will help with that.

Start off by cleaning your list so that you’re sending to an engaged list.

Next, make sure you’re collecting the data that matters to help you become more targeted in your sends.

Use that data to set up your segments and flows.

And track how your email performance is doing using revenue per recipient.

Do all this and you’ll be seeing a high ROI in no time.


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